As people from the U.S. and around the world prepare to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March to Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 28, an American seminary has co-produced a short film retelling the famous last four minutes of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.
Produced by Christian Theological Seminary (CTS), the SALT Project and Indianapolis PBS affiliate WFYI the film takes the civil rights icon’s powerful call for an end to racism and makes it relevant to America’s current context. Children, high school students, church members and CTS folks representing various race groups deliver King’s message.
Portions of the famous speech are translated from English to Spanish – a nod to the fact that the Hispanic American population – which constitute 16.7 per cent of the population – are now the largest ethnic minority in the U.S. and like African-Americans, report significant discrimination.
The film aims to “help inspire communities across the country to ask the question: how far have we come on the journey to social justice and what must be done to achieve the dream King so eloquently articulated in 1963,” said a statement by SALT project director Elizabeth Myer Boulton. “Dr. King’s vision and passion captured a generation’s imagination but we cannot do justice to his memory unless we recommit ourselves anew to that world we envisioned.”
Producers said they hope the film will be watched in every congregation of all faiths, in schools and communities in the U.S. and that when they do so, people will remember “this preacher from the south who changed the world, and be challenged anew to see that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'”
The film was shown last April to members of the Associated Church Press (of which the Anglican Journal is a member) during its annual convention held last April in Indianapolis. It can be downloaded here.
Elsewhere in the U.S., Washington National Cathedral announced plans to join commemorative marches planned in downtown Washington, host a special forum featuring an audio of King’s last Sunday sermon delivered at the Cathedral in 1968, among others.
“The availability of jobs, and our ability as Americans of many backgrounds to enjoy the same freedoms, have become as pressingly needed now as when Martin Luther King called for them 50 years ago,” said a statement by the Very Rev. Gary Hall, Cathedral dean. “That these issues are made more complex by our country’s unwillingness to address racial disparities – in any meaningful terms – is made only more clear by the Supreme Court’s dismantling of the Voting Rights Act and our deep division over the tragic, unnecessary death of Trayvon Martin.” Martin was a 17-year-old African-American teenager shot to death by a former neighbourhood watchman, George Zimmerma last year in Florida. A jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
On Wednesday, Aug. 28, at 3 p.m., the exact date and time of King’s speech 50 years ago, the Cathedral carillon will join other houses of worship across the United States in ringing their bells in honour of the anniversary. They will also play hymns including “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” “We Shall Overcome,” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”
Church bells are also expected to ring in houses of worship in Canada, and at City Hall in Ottawa, the nation’s capital. There is a plan for the carilloneur to play music at the Peace Tower in a tribute to King’s legacy.
On Wednesday night, the Rev Anthony Bailey, Parkdale United Church in Ottawa, will host a community commemoration of the march and King’s speech.
The event will feature reflections, African-American gospel and spiritual music, spoken word poetry, among others.